Sunday, July 18, 2021

Destiny vs. Tricksters.

First things first: At long last, The Atherton Vampire is out! Go here to find Jerry's story. The first ten episodes are live right now; Episode 11 drops next Monday, July 26th, and new episodes will be released every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday through the end of August. Enjoy!


Xochicalco | Deposit Photos
Speaking of episodic fiction: All six of the episodes of the Marvel Classic Universe's newest TV show, Loki, have been released on Disney Plus. (I would have used a graphic with scenes from the show, but I didn't want to get a letter from Disney's lawyers about copyright infringement.) 

I am going to do my best to avoid spoilers (but no guarantees!), as the final episode just dropped Wednesday and a lot of people probably haven't seen it yet. Here's the show's premise, as laid out by the first couple of episodes: Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, does something that changes the original timeline in the Avengers movies, thereby running afoul of an organization that calls itself the Timeline Variance Authority, or TVA for short. The purpose of the TVA is to prune people who create offshoots of the "sacred timeline." As we all know (from reading the Pipe Woman Chronicles books, if nothing else), Loki is a Trickster. So of course there are a bunch of Loki "variants" that have done stuff that would change the timeline, and they have been pruned. The MCU's original Loki is spared by a TVA agent named Mobius, played by Owen Wilson. Then our Loki runs into a renegade version of himself who escaped from the TVA. This Loki is female; she calls herself Sylvie. And hijinks ensue.

Am I in spoiler trouble yet? Oh well. Onward!

Reviews of the show have been split. Folks who were fans of the comic books were generally disgruntled; they saw who the Big Bad Guy would turn out to be a mile away and/or they're unhappy with the depiction of Loki's character, including one reviewer who wanted more of an emphasis on Loki's gender fluidity. (Even in Norse mythology, Loki had the ability to morph into a female -- and without benefit of having to create a new timeline.) Some folks thought it was lazy storytelling for Loki to take a liking to another version of himself. (Yeah, yeah, spoiler, I know. But I rolled my eyes when I read this. He's a narcissist -- of course he'd fall for himself!)

Folks who never read the comic books have generally been charmed by the show, although -- like me -- they're annoyed that the writers couldn't have wrapped up something in the first six episodes. Episode 6 ends with a giant cliffhanger and the second season probably won't start airing for another year and a half. 

Anyway, there's a big philosophical question underlying the structure of the series, and I don't think it's much of a spoiler to point it out. What the TVA is doing, essentially, is putting the kibosh on free will. Somebody has assumed the mantle of God, decreeing which events fall within the sacred timeline. Does that mean everything that happens is predetermined? What does that mean for free will?

Clearly, in the MCU everything is predetermined by the writers. But I think every fiction author has had a character go rogue on them. Sometimes they'll do what you want them to do, but not for the reason you thought. But sometimes they just flat-out refuse to follow your outline (assuming you have one) and then you're left scrambling to get everything to turn out the way it needs to.

In real life, though, the battle between free will and predestination gets murkier. And it's a big argument among Christians -- do we make our own decisions, or are our lives preordained? In other words, has God written the whole script ahead of time? And if so, can we change our destinies? Is it worth even trying?

As a Pagan, I don't worry about any of this. There's no Creator God in my personal pantheon, so there's no one available to write the script. I tend to think more in terms of people behaving in predictable ways. That means free will is a given. We have the ability to change our ways and hopefully create a different life, a different outcome. It's difficult -- but there's no doubt in my mind that it can be done.

Regardless of my personal beliefs, though, I enjoyed this first season of Loki and I cannot wait for season two.


These moments of Tricky blogginess have been brought to you, as a public service, by Lynne Cantwell. Get vaxxed!

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